The story of "Pink Floyd|
Roger Keith (Syd) Barrett, 6 January, 1946
George Roger Waters, 9 September, 1943
Richard William Wright, 28 July, 1945
Nicholas Berkeley Mason, 27 January, 1945
David Jon Gilmour, 6 March, 1946
About 1965, the Floyd-to-be formed as "Sigma 6." They then changed to "The
T-Set" ("Tea Set"), then "The Meggadeaths," "The Architectural Abdabs," "The
Screaming Abdabs," and simply "The Abdabs." At this point, the band's
membership consisted of:
* Roger Waters, lead guitar
* Clive Metcalf, bass
* Richard Wright, keyboards
* Nick Mason, drums
* Juliette Gale, vocals
* Keith Noble, vocals
The Abdabs mostly played rhythm and blues songs. Juliette later married
Wright, and she, Noble, and Metcalf all quit the band. Waters then brought
in Bob Close and Syd Barrett for guitars, then later Close left, leaving the
original recorded Pink Floyd lineup. In late '65, they became "The Pink
Floyd Sound," then just "The Pink Floyd." The name Pink Floyd came from
albums by two blues artists, Pink Anderson and Floyd Council, that were in
Syd Barrett's collection. It had often been said that using the name came to
Syd in a vision.
The Floyd began to attract attention in mid-1966, frequently playing such
underground hangouts as The UFO Club and The Marquee Club's Spontaneous
Underground. It was during this time that they made the transition from
playing psychedelic R&B covers to doing their own songs; almost exclusively
Syd Barrett compositions. As Floyd biographer Miles has said about this
period, "The Floyd were the loudest band anyone had ever heard at that time.
They were also the weirdest. They were the underground band."
The Floyd's growing underground popularity led to a single, "Arnold Layne,"
released in March of 1967. It entered the British charts at #20, resulting
in national media exposure for the band. Their followup single, "See Emily
Play," stayed on the charts for 7 weeks, reaching #6. The Pink Floyd's first
LP, The Piper at the Gates of Dawn, also remained on the charts for 7 weeks,
and also reached #6.
The success that followed their first two singles and Piper proved to be too
much for Syd, as the vast quantities of drugs he was taking in, the blind
worship of his fans, and other factors all made him unpredictable on stage
and in the studio. The other members of the group decided to bring in an
additional guitarist to cover for Syd, and thus David Gilmour was asked to
join the band (Jeff Beck was also considered, but the band was in awe of
him, and thought he would command too high a price). Gilmour (not the same
as jazz musician David Gilmore ;) had established a reputation as a
guitarist and vocalist in the group "The Jokers Wild".
With the addition of Gilmour and Syd's declining state, it was shortly
decided that the band could carry on without him, and so one night they
simply didn't pick him up on the way to a show. Barrett went on to record
two solo albums (with the assistance of the Floyd's members), and while he
remained (and remains) a cult hero, he never achieved the musical popularity
on his own that he did with the group.
Pink Floyd, meanwhile (having shed the "The" part of their name along with
Syd), went on to be fantastically successful, follwing a somewhat rough
start sans Barrett. They continued as a foursome from Saucerful through
Animals; it was during the Wall sessions that Rick Wright was forced out of
the group (See P3Q30). By this time as well the lyrical and conceptual
ambitions of Waters were clashing full on with the musical ideas of Gilmour;
on the subsequent Final Cut album, Gilmour acted as essentially a session
musician. At that point, it seemed impossible that they would ever work
together again, and thus Pink Floyd was seen as dead. To heighten this
impression, both Waters and Gilmour produced solo albums, neither of which
did terribly well on the charts or as draws for the tours the two embarked
In short, Waters decided to officially leave the group; Gilmour and Mason subsequently decided to record an album under the Pink Floyd name. Waters, who thought the name best layed to rest, sued them over its use.
Waters also remained active musically, following up his first solo album,
Pros and Cons of Hitchhiking, with contributions to the little known movie
soundtrack, "When the Wind Blows." His next solo album was Radio KAOS, for
which he again toured. Again, neither was a great success commercially;
certainly not by Pink Floyd standards. Later, in 1990, he staged what was
certainly one of the more memorable music "events" in recent history, with
his Wall in Berlin charity concert. His most recent work, Amused to Death,
was not the sales success it was hoped it would be, despite much commercial
hype. This was to the great disappointment of many of his fans, who thought
that AtD was his best work yet.
Meanwhile, Pink Floyd did not die, certainly not legally, and in the minds
of many fans, not in spirit either. Their first post-Waters release, A
Momentary Lapse of Reason, went on to become a major success, and the 2 1/2
member Floyd followed it up with an extensive world tour. After several
years off, the group, now with a full three members, released The Division Bell, and embarked on another tour.